I knew I was asking for trouble when I saw the size of this book…
Themes: Adult, Fantasy, Historical, Romance
Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.
But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.
In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.
After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for…
Given the size of the book, I think you can guess that the worldbuilding is fantastic. And yes, it is. I travelled from Cairo to the royal gardens in the djinn’s city, without forgetting the desert in the space of a few chapters. The descriptions are very thorough and I was able to really picture the different places in my head.
Another guess you can take without risk is about the complexity of the worldbuilding and politics. To be honest, I was a bit lost among the different types and tribes of djinns since this is a mythology I am not familiar with. The discovery of this world is done through two POV: Nahri’s, so the one of a human which is in the same situation as the reader, and a member of the djinn’s royal family, who thus know more about you. And to this world are added games of political powers, the history of the djinns, the political unrest of the city, and the different religions.
But the intricacy of this book is not stopping here and is going further with the cast of characters. Since the two POVs are happening at the same time but do not meet until the end of the book, the reader is following basically two plots (or books 😂) at the same time. It would be too long to go through them all so I will just say that I really liked Nahri, who is the type of heroine I feel we are seeing more and more, meaning clever, witty, and sarcastic. For the others, I will go with just the one I found the most interesting and the one that got on my nerves. For the former, the place will go to the djinn king whom I found interesting because of his morally grey behaviour. I think he is showing really well the position of a king which is that you have to make decisions that are against your personality and ethics if you think it is what the greater good is needed. I also liked how this character was in total opposition with my least favourite one, Ali (one of the princes). He is a real narcissist, proud and I just was rolling my eyeballs while reading his chapters so much he angered me. I mean, you can have principles but here he was just a spoiled brat who thinks himself morally above the others and does not want to understand that sometimes well yes you have to make hard decisions because the world is not black or white!
In brief: I thought I knew the rating of this book but while writing this review I am not sure anymore. I was going to put 4.5/5 because the world is so incredibly complex but maybe too much. I also found the pacing a bit weird in the sense that you feel the plot is going forward while reading it and you turn the page quite quickly, but you realise that nothing is really happening so much the focus is put on the worldbuilding and the politics. I also had a huge issue with how women are considered and the fact that Nahri is the only female character important to the story.
My rating: 4/5
2 thoughts on “The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty”
OKAY BUT I LOVE THE WAY THIS REVIEW STARTS 🤣🤣 ALSO OMG AMAZING WORLD BUILDING AND RIDICULOUS AMOUNTS OF POLITICS AND A BADASS CON ARTIST AND MORALLY GREY CHARACTERS?? IM SO HERE FOR IT. this is also somehow the first time ive ever read the synopsis of the books EVEN THOUGH THEYRE ALL OVER THE INTERNET, but im definitely intrigued now AND LOVE THE REVIEW. im so glad you enjoyed the book despite all the issues!!!!!
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Thank you! It was definitely a well constructed, complex fantasy story! I hope you’ll enjoy it if you decide to read it 😉
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